What must the government do to save lives?

The government has the power to drastically improve treatment, care and survival for people with pancreatic cancer. Here's how we believe they could do this.

30 March 2022

In order to close the survival gap between pancreatic and other cancers, pancreatic cancer must be prioritised by the government.

When we responded to the government’s public Call for Evidence for it’s promised 10-year cancer plan for England, we told them everything that needs to happen to drastically improve treatment, care and survival for people with pancreatic cancer in the next decade – from early diagnosis, to better treatment, to innovative research and holistic support and information.

See our full submission to the government’s Call for Evidence, and the advice we gave to our supporter on sharing their own evidence.

What we called for

Raising awareness of cancer causes and prevention


  • Ensure everyone at risk of hereditary pancreatic cancer has access to surveillance programmes on the NHS by 2024. 
  • Government should commit to funding surveillance programmes and specific studies focussing on people at risk of pancreatic cancer, so that everyone at risk has access to surveillance by 2032.

Raising awareness of symptoms


  • Invest in a dedicated public awareness campaign in the next 2-3 years to be rolled out from 2024 onwards, that will enable more people with pancreatic cancer to be identified at an earlier stage. 
  • Allocate sustainable resource to local health bodies such as Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) and Cancer Alliances (CAs) so that key healthcare professionals are aware of symptoms and risk factors for pancreatic cancer by 2025. 

Earlier and faster diagnosis


  • Invest in the development of a triage biomarker test for pancreatic cancer in the next 2-3 years, so that by 2032 every patient with pancreatic cancer can receive a prompt referral to be diagnosed at an early symptomatic stage by the GP. 
  • Increase research funding in the next two years to identify, image and monitor those at increased risk of pancreatic cancer with the aim of a pancreatic cancer screening programme to be nationally rolled out by 2032. 
  • Provide capacity and workforce to implement Best Practice Timed Pathways (BTPT) so that by 2027 everyone with pancreatic cancer is diagnosed within 21 days of referral, and ensure that the early diagnosis interventions mentioned above are adopted in the BPTP so that it delivers both faster and earlier diagnosis by 2032. 
  • Expand the scope of the NICE NG12 criteria for pancreatic cancer. 

Improving access to and experience of treatment


  • Implement the Optimal Care Pathway that Pancreatic Cancer UK are developing with the pancreatic cancer community to eliminate variations, and standardise clinical practice across England, by 2025. 
  • Cancer Waiting Time targets should be disaggregated and updated to reflect the urgency of each individual cancer. 
  • Prehabilitation and rehabilitation should be made a standard of care for pancreatic cancer by 2025, with all patients having access to a personalised programme whether or not they receive treatment by 2032. 
  • Develop a dedicated national programme to increase prescription rates of Pancreatic Enzyme Replacement Therapy (PERT) from 50% to 75% across England by 2024. The Government must also ensure that no inequalities exist in PERT access between people with pancreatic cancer receiving surgery and those diagnosed late by 2032. 
  • Ensure that all people with pancreatic cancer have access to molecular profiling, targeted treatments and clinical trials by 2032, in line with the NHS Genomic Medicine Service’s commitments within the Long-Term Plan. 

Improving after-care and support services


  • Ensure Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) principles are used as standard in the context of pancreatic surgery, and that systems have sufficient resource to enact them by 2032. 
  • Ensure that by 2032 everyone with pancreatic cancer receives tailored, holistic psychological support for pancreatic cancer patients, from the point of diagnosis. 
  • Ensure that by 2032, pancreatic cancer workforce numbers are stabilised and increased so that everyone with pancreatic cancer has access to specialist clinical and allied professional support. 
  • Improve signposting of patients to patient support organisations such as Pancreatic Cancer UK. 

Maximising the impact of research and data


  • Invest and sustain £35-40 million per year in research for pancreatic cancer. 
  • Bring all patient health records and data under a centralised platform. 
  • Invest in building partnerships between members of the detection research community in pancreatic cancer, and experts in the field of implementation research. 
  • Publish more and better data on pancreatic cancer, including via an annual NHSE pancreatic cancer audit from 2023 onwards. 
  • Produce more and better data starting from 2023 to understand and tackle health inequalities in pancreatic cancer by 2032. 

How we influenced the 10-year cancer plan

Read our blog about everything we did as a charity to influenced the new cancer plan promised by the government.

Find out more
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We also worked with the rest of the sector on two other joint responses to the public survey:  

  • With the other members of the Less Survivable Cancers Taskforce, which we chair. Together we’ve written a response that highlights the need for prioritisation of the six less survivable cancers – pancreatic, stomach, oesophageal, brain, lung and liver – in order to close the deadly cancer gap between these and other cancers. 
  • With 54 other cancer charities, as the coalition ‘One Cancer Voice’. The coalition has issued a statement that details 10 tests which the new Cancer Plan must meet in order for it to bring real, effective change for people with cancer. 

 

What's next?

After launching a ‘War on Cancer’ in 2022, the Government is yet to deliver on its promise to make England a world leader in cancer care. But we won’t stop campaigning until pancreatic cancer gets the attention it deserves.

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Rebecca Buggs, who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, handing in the One Cancer Voice petition at No 10 Downing Street